Stories From The Dead

When we’re kids we don’t know what questions to ask. It doesn’t seem fair that I had my incredible grandparents around me for so long but I never really knew them deeply as humans. To me, they were just Grandma and Grandpa – two magical creatures who lived in a big house and showered me with love and food and trips to special places.

I think that my genealogy work was born out of a desire to find answers. And it was genealogy and the Internet that led me to long lost family, family that I didn’t know I had, and even old family friends. And one of those dear family friends has given me the most incredible gift.

I contacted Robyn out of the blue on Facebook, hoping that she would respond. I believed her to be the granddaughter of my mother’s godparents, Gertrude and Gene, who were fast friends with my grandparents Goddard. The four of them (Gert, Gene, Charlie and Lillian) worked and lived together off and on throughout the years, and my mother was close friends with Gert and Gene’s daughter Patricia.

To my delight and surprise, Robyn messaged me back, added me on Facebook, and told me she was going to send me Gert and Gene’s correspondence and some photos. A large box arrived a few days later and I have been slowly perusing these old letters from the 1930s through the 1960s.

In one of the many letters Gene wrote to his wife Gertrude while working in Chile with my grandfather Charlie, Gene described some of Charlie’s personality.

Santiago, Chile
August 15, 1965

Dearest Gertrude –

It was so nice talking with you last evening, and to have such a good connection. It was Charlie’s idea – he said he could put it on his expense account, where they might not accept it on mine…..

Has been a busy week, what with work and social activity. Charlie wants me to meet as many people as possible that he knows, for both business and social reasons, and of course, Charlie, being an extrovert, likes to meet and talk to people…..

Charlie’s ability to make friends with desk clerks, waiters, waitresses, maids, also pays off… there is no secret to his system – he just treats them like friends…..

Thank you Gene, for telling me this about my Grandpa Charlie. I felt like I had been there with you both, watching Charlie as he helped the headwaiter struggling with his English to deal with a British hotel guest. Gene said that you took the phone and explained to the lady that unfortunately it would be impossible for her to bring her bottle of wine down to the dining room. Gene said that you made a fast friend of the waiter that evening and managed to do it without angering the guest.

I have probably over 100 letters to look through and read. I can’t wait to find out more about Gene, Gertrude, Charlie and Lillian.

Thank you Robyn!

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